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Former Acting Municipal Manager Arrested for Fraud

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PRETORIA – The Hawks’ Clean Audit Task Team (CATT) arrested Buti Piet Molupi (49), on Wednesday following an investigation into tender irregularities in Contravention of Section 173 of Municipal Finance Management Act.

The arrest comes in the wake of allegations of an irregular appointment of Zero Tolerance by Nala Local Municipality in terms of Regulation 36 (Deviation). The appointment was based on the provision of Security Services at Nala Local Municipality in Bothaville. The Hawks’ CATT investigation revealed that the conduct of the then acting Municipality Manager, Zero Tolerance and its Director resulted in the Municipality suffering a loss amounting to R205 196.38. The said contraventions took place from September 2016 to May 2018.

The consequent investigation has already resulted in the arrest of four senior officials from Maluti-a-Phofung municipality, Chris Mokomela the former Nala municipality manager and that of Warnic Montsitsi a Director of the service provider (Zero Tolerance) who submitted the alleged fraudulent invoices without following correct supply chain processes to Nala local municipality and benefited from the proceeds of crime.

Molupi appeared in the Bothaville Magistrate’s court and was granted R5 000. The case was postponed to the 21 May 2020 for a Serious Commercial Court date.

The arrest brings to six, the individuals that have been detained thus far for allegedly defrauding the municipalities of Maluti-a-Phofung and Nala in the Free State. The accused, four senior government officials and a director of a private company have already appeared in the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrate’s Court.

The group allegedly conspired and colluded during October 2016 and awarded company Zero Tolerance a tender to provide protection and security services to the municipalities without following the correct supply chain management processes in terms of Municipal Finance Management Act.

Robert Tsupa, 46, Abraham Moratwe Mofokeng (47), Mabidikwana Wilfred Matjele (61), Nkgaudise Nelson Molefe (39), and Configen/Trading Zero Tolerance director Tefo Warnic Montsitsi (50), were the initial arrested persons in this case.

Tsupa is former municipal manager, Mofokeng was the chief financial officer, Matjele was the director of public safety and Molefe the manager at supply chain department within the municipality. The five appeared in court on charges of fraud and corruption and were each granted R10 000 bail pending further investigation.

The warrants for their arrests were executed by the Hawks’ serious corruption crime investigating unit following investigation into a security services tender that was unduly awarded to Zero Tolerance. The municipality reportedly lost almost R700 000 as a result of an alleged irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure. Prior to the arrests, the investigation team seized documents and electronic equipment for analysis to assist with further investigations. The seized documents revealed that Zero Tolerance was at some stage appointed by Dihlabeng local municipality to render similar services as well.

The appointment was declared unlawful by the High Court in Bloemfontein after a rival entity successfully challenged it. The tender was then set aside. Despite this, in 2016 Tsupa, as the Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager, allegedly undeservedly appointed Zero Tolerance to run the protection and security services for the municipality using the same contract that was declared unlawful and set aside by the High Court.